David Pepose talks about GOING TO THE CHAPEL

Our friend David Pepose, wasn’t satisfied ruining Calvin & Hobbs with his wonderful and tragic Spencer & Locke. He had now turned his attention to marriage and plans on examining that institution with a story about a reluctant bride and Elvis impersonators. Who doesn’t love Elvis? Who doesn’t love a wedding? Well… David stopped by First Comics News to let us know about his views on both with his new series GOING TO THE CHAPEL.

First Comics News: Who is Emily?

David Pepose: Emily is a wealthy bride who is grappling with a serious case of cold feet — that said, before she can say anything, her wedding winds up being crashed by the Bad Elvis Gang, who are on the prowl for a priceless jewel necklace on loan for the event. But when the police wind up getting the jump on the bad guys, forcing them to barricade the chapel, Emily sees some surprising allies in her quest to escape the bonds of holy matrimony — she’s going to wind up the unlikely ringleader of her own hostage situation, teaming up with the Bad Elvis Gang to try to bust out of her own wedding. Of course, becoming a criminal is far from simple, especially when you’re locked inside a church with your own dysfunctional family — so Emily is going to have to really dig deep to find out what she really wants, and where her loyalties really lie.

1st: Who is Tom?

David: Tom is a dashing criminal who happens to be the leader of the Bad Elvis Gang. Tom is a naturally charming person, which makes up for his impulsive, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants sensibilities, but he’s going to find himself in over his head when his heist at St. Jude’s Chapel winds up getting a couple of wrenches thrown in, as this smash-and-grab spirals into a full-blown hostage situation. Still, he’ll have a surprising connection with Emily that will wind up driving much of our series — the two of them are going to learn a lot from one another, and their evolving dynamic is one of my favorite parts of GOING TO THE CHAPEL.

1st: Who is Jesse?

David: Jesse is Emily’s well-meaning but clueless fiancé. He’s a good guy, but he’s so wrapped up in the idea of getting married that he’s totally missing the deer-in-headlights signals that Emily is giving off. So you can imagine that when he thinks Emily has been kidnapped by the Bad Elvis Gang, he’s going to do whatever it takes to rescue her… even when being rescued is exactly the opposite of what Emily wants right now. But the thing I like most about Jesse is that, at the end of the day, he’s an awkward, ordinary guy who steps up to protect the people he cares about. He might be working at cross-purposes sometimes with Emily, but his heart is in the right place.

1st: Why is Emily marrying Jesse if she feels so conflicted?

David: You’ll have to read the book to find out! Without giving too much away, when it comes to love and relationships, it’s easy to get swept up in things — and it’s easy to get intimated when things start getting permanent. So over the course of our story, Emily will have to face up to her own romantic history and actually come to terms with it before she can move forward, regardless of whatever decision she actually makes about walking down the aisle.

1st: Who are the Bad Elvis Gang and why do they choose to rob a wedding chapel?

David: The Bad Elvis Gang are a group of criminals that have robbed a dozen banks in the past three months, and they look good doing it. Tom, along with his accomplices Vegas, Motown, and Romero, have been professional thieves for a long time, but the heist on St. Jude’s Chapel is definitely going to drive a wedge in between these longtime partners-in-crime. Part of that has to do with why they’re robbing the chapel in the first place — namely, to steal the Heart of Dresden, a $250 million necklace on loan from Paris’s Musee D’Orsay. When you think about it, it makes sense — there’s less security, less cameras, less locks at a church than at a museum or in a bank vault. Unfortunately, this heist is not going to go the way they planned…

1st: Tell me more about Emily’s family – how do they factor into this storyline? Do they care that Emily is having second thoughts about the wedding?

David: Emily’s family… they’re weird people, man. (Laughs) They’re rich, entitled, dysfunctional, and completely larger-than-life — imagine if the Bluth family from Arrested Development were caught in a bank robbery, and you’ll get a sense of how poorly the Anderson family is going to fare in this wedding heist from hell. Because wedding parties are pretty hierarchical, it’s easy for people to imagine the father of the bride or the best man or the maid of honor, and that makes it a snap to turn those archetypes into weirdos like Emily’s parents Arthur and Francine, pyromaniac flower girl Olive, or d-bag best man B.J. We’ve got a lot of people to juggle in this book, and they’ll all leave their mark — but the one thing they have in common is that they’re so caught up in their own nonsense, nobody is noticing Emily’s increasing fears about getting married.

1st: Grandma Harriet’s words of wisdom, is this good advice or bad advice?

David: Rik, are you trying to get me in trouble at home?! (Laughs) Yes, this is objectively terrible advice from Grandma Harriet. To be honest, I would not trust any pearls of wisdom from Emily’s extended family, mostly because I like sleeping in my own bed and not on my couch.

1st: Who is Sheriff Walter Reagan?

David: Walt is the long arm of the law — he’s the ticking clock, he’s the external pressure on what’s already a powder keg of emotions and ammunition. The sheriff of sleepy Rockford County, Walt is the kind of guy who shoots first, asks questions never — which is not great when you’re a bank robber, but is especially not great when you’re a hostage caught in the middle. Walt’s a good old Southern boy, one who’s a lot smarter than people think — even when he’s kept at arm’s length by the Bad Elvis Gang, Walt is going to constantly be testing the boundaries and waiting for them to slip up. He’s like a dog chasing after a car, and he just might catch it.

1st: Can you talk about the chapel as a setting? What made you decide to set your story here?

David: The idea of containing most of our story in one singular location was really appealing to me — I wanted to keep the tension high, and really leverage the environment as much as possible. And by putting this series in a chapel, that meant we got to lean heavily on a wealth of wedding imagery — if you think throwing a bouquet is a high-stakes endeavor, wait till you try it when you have the cops breaking down the door!

1st: What’s it like working with your creative team, with artist Gavin Guidry and colorist Liz Kramer?

David: GOING TO THE CHAPEL is a book that’s really got a stacked bench as far as the creative team is concerned. Gavin is a superstar in the making — he’s got such an expressive style that really switches easily from hilariously expressive to just stylishly action-packed, sometimes from panel to panel. He and I also were in close contact from the jump to create a fully rendered, three-dimensional chapel on SketchUp — it was a great collaborative experience plotting out each character’s trajectory scene by scene, to make sure that the environment was able to match the rest of the story. Meanwhile, Liz and I talked a lot about the color palette for the book — particularly Matt Wilson’s work on Black Widow and Patricia Martin’s work on Secret Weapons — but Liz added such a wonderful sense of texture and mood to every page that was all her own.

1st: What makes Going to the Chapel so cool, it will revive the genre of Romance Comics?

David: Romance gets a bad rap not just in comics, but across pop culture — undeservedly so, in fact. From Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to About Time to 500 Days of Summer, many of my favorite stories all have that same romantic foundation — the genre is just as flexible as crime, sci-fi, or superheroes. And in GOING TO THE CHAPEL, we’re able to bring the best of both worlds to readers — this series brings incredible action with some laugh-out-loud characters and some truly heartfelt themes. Love is the ultimate hostage situation in GOING TO THE CHAPEL — but when you see the kind of magic that this creative team is putting together, it’s going to be the kind of hostage situation you’re never going to want to leave.

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